Symbolism In Ernest Hemingway's Hills Like White Elephants

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Symbols are often placed in the surrounding scenery of a story to give it more than just a visual effect but also an indirect reference to a deeper meaning that can be interpreted. As seen in the title, symbolism is used throughout the short story, “Hills like White Elephants”. Ernest Hemingway’s use of symbolism along with the description of the setting helps to give a visual representation of the conflict between the American and the girl as their conversation continues on the subject of abortion.
In the near beginning of the story, Jig, the girl, states that the far off hills “look like white elephants” (Charters 475). In Asian culture, the white elephant is seen as a burden as it is costly to care for and an unwanted burden despite it being considered a holy animal. As their conversation continues, it is clear to see that they are arguing about whether to go through with the abortion. The white elephant for the couple is supposedly the child that the girl is carrying within her. Some critics argue that the white elephant represents not just the unborn baby, but also Jig in the viewpoint of the American. He is …show more content…

If analyzed in a more generic view, the short story can be used to show how a male and female stereotypically understand a subject. The American speaks more literal and materialistic as Jig is seen to speak in a more figurative and abstract manner. Ernest Hemingway’s use of symbolism gives the reader a more visual effect to the conflict between the man and the girl as well as the idea of their inner thoughts. The white rounded hills, the beads on the curtain hanging from the bar’s doorframe, and the cool shade and blazing light all represent different aspects of the two choices that the American and the girl have to decide on, just like the railroad tracks on either side of the

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